When it's 30 degrees, grey and can't decide if it's going to rain or snow, what's a girl to do? Go to Las Vegas! Really I had the chance to go for a business conference, but snuck in a little fun too. Now I'm going to start this out with a little disclaimer - I don't gamble. Like at all. However, that shouldn't keep you from having a great time exploring a new place. Here's the low down...
Places to Sleep
Conventional wisdom is that you don't sleep in Vegas, but give me a comfy bed to curl into at the end of a long day and I'm a happy camper. We've been to Vegas a couple of times now, and have had a mix of experiences with accomodations.
Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace
This is by far our favorite place to stay on the strip, it's an escape to serenity in the middle of the Caesars casinos. The rooms are incredible and clean (this will be important later). There's also a fantastic lounge with complimentary water, computers, desks and concierge service. In addition, if you plan to dine at the Nobu restaurant, you'll receive priority reservations. Traveling soon? There's a sale going on now with great discounts on rooms.
Bally's Hotel Las Vegas
We most recently stayed at Bally's, and I was really surprised by the great rooms. We were lucky to stay in a renovated room, which was bright and cheerful. Rooms were reasonably priced with great access to the activities along the strip and some of the walking bridges to get to different venues.
Places to Eat
The food in Vegas is amazing - you can find virtually any type of cuisine your heart desires and more. The downside to food in Vegas? It's fairly expensive, even for a quick bit to eat. Did that keep us from eating a ridiculous amount of food? Nah... Each time we visit we find new favorites, here's a list of what we loved!
Mesa Grill is a Bobby Flay restaurant, located in Caesars Palace. It is divine, and we try to splurge a bit and go each time we are in town. The bread basket is filled with so many goodies, but my very favorite are the cornmeal muffins that are made with two types of cornmeal. Those, with a spread of butter... Yum... Order the Queso Fundido and the Chili Rellenos, and you won't regret it. I promise. Hubs and I like to order a bunch of dishes and share family style so we can taste a bunch of different things (is it sharing family style when there are two of you??).
Hexx kitchen + bar
Hexx is a super fun place to grab brunch. We arrived on our last trip in time to grab a late lunch there, it was festive and fun with lots of groups just finishing brunch. They have a wide variety of food, and the chilaquiles are AMAZING (I ordered no chicken, and it was no problem). There are also fresh juices and an endless mimosa on the menu that looked incredible.
We wanted something a little lighter one morning with some casual outside seating, and Bruxie did the trick. Across from the MGM in a courtyard area, Bruxie is a casual dining experience with THE BEST waffle sandwiches. I tried the roasted mushroom & goat cheese, and it was delish. The rest of our group raved about their food as well, it was a win all around. Plus they have great outdoor seating next to a water feature that makes you forget for a second that there are a million people around.
Things to Do
On the Strip
Go for a walk!
People watching in Vegas is a great way to spend a bit of time while you wander around and get acquainted with the area!
The Bellaggio fountains are a sight to behold (especially from the Eiffel tower if you want a special treat). They put on a show frequently and are just as impressive each time we visit. Some great viewing areas include the benches on the sidewalk near the pond the raised walkway of the Bellaggio.
If you enjoy gardens at all, the Bellaggio conservatory is a must see. Each season the gardens are updated to a new theme and there are hundreds of plants that make up the display. On our last visit, the gardens were being reworked so we couldn't visit but it was amazing to see the way they construct the structures and the detail that goes into putting it all together. A bonus when visiting the conservatory - you pass under a Chiluly glass display that is part of the lobby.
Gondola Ride at the Venetian
The Venetian is an amazing hotel, but also has a riverwalk in the lower level with gondolas! You can arrange to take a gondola ride, either in the indoor or outdoor pools.
See a Show!
The first time we went to Vegas, we weren't able to see any shows because we didn't plan ahead and had also traveled on days when shows weren't running. The next time, we planned ahead and made sure we could see a few shows. We ended up going to Absinthe and KA, both were incredible and I'd recommend them highly. There's not a shortage of shows to see, so chat with your hotel concierge if you need recommendations or assistane with tickets.
Off the Strip
Even with all of the exploring that we did on the strip, sometimes it's nice to get away from the hustle & bustle and go on an adventure (or three). We rented a car for a couple of days and went out to explore some of the sights.
The Hoover Dam is an engineering marvel, a sight to behold. The day we went, there were no power plant tours operating, so we spent the day walking around exploring. The sheer size of the dam is awesome, but having an opportunity to learn the history and stand on such a significant portion of our history was humbling. We took the opportunity to walk up to the bridge overlooking the dam as well. It's a must do if you're in the area.
We were hoping to be able to rent a boat or paddleboard and explore the lake a bit, but due to restrictions as a result of the winds the day we went, we opted not to. Instead, we wandered around the marina and found a very short narrows hike to explore called White Owl Canyon. I was really hoping to see some owls, but we went at the wrong time of the day. It was still one of the highlights of the trip, and well worth the admission to the Lake Mead Recreational Area.
Red Rock Canyon
We ran out of time on the day we went to Hoover Dam to go to Red Rock Canyon, so went out another day to visit the area. It was INCREDIBLE. Nature has a way of making you feel like you are just a speck in the world, and this was no exception. We visited the welcome center and picked up a couple of gifts for the kids, then made our way along the one way road to Willow Spring Picnic Area where we were hoping to see some petroglyphs. Unfortunately we didn't see any, but did manage the 6ish mile hike around white rock that was filled with lots of great scenery and views you just can't experience from the road.
I hope this inspires you to get off the beaten path on your next trip to Vegas, or to make it a destination. One thing is assured, you'll never be bored!